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Front Plant Sci. 2016 Mar 23;7:197. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00197. eCollection 2016.

Melatonin Improved Anthocyanin Accumulation by Regulating Gene Expressions and Resulted in High Reactive Oxygen Species Scavenging Capacity in Cabbage.

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College of Horticulture, China Agricultural University Beijing, China.
Shandong Huasheng Agriculture Co., Ltd Shandong, China.
Beijing Agriculture Technology Extension Station Beijing, China.
School of Agriculture, Virginia State University Petersburg, VA, USA.


In this work, we found, that exogenous melatonin pretreatment improved anthocyanin accumulation (1- to 2-fold) in cabbage. To verify the relationship with melatonin and anthocyanin, an Arabidopsis mutant, snat, which expresses a defective form of the melatonin biosynthesis enzyme SNAT (Serotonin N-acetyl transferase), was employed. Under cold conditions, the foliage of wild-type Arabidopsis exhibited a deeper red color than the snat mutant. This finding further proved, that exogenous melatonin treatment was able to affect anthocyanin accumulation. To gain a better understanding of how exogenous melatonin upregulates anthocyanin, we measured gene expression in cabbage samples treated with melatonin and untreated controls. We found that the transcript levels of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes were upregulated by melatonin treatment. Moreover, melatonin treatment increased the expression levels of the transcription factors MYB, bHLH, and WD40, which constitute the transcriptional activation complex responsible for coordinative regulation of anthocyanin biosynthetic genes. We found, that free radical generation was downregulated, whereas the osmotic adjustment and antioxidant capacities were upregulated in exogenous melatonin-treated cabbage plants. We concluded, that melatonin increases anthocyanin production and benefits cabbage growth.


anthocyanin; cabbage; gene expression; melatonin; reactive oxygen species

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